RossEnglish 10H12/6/17Othello Argument Essay Since some believe that Shakespeare is a racist misogynist because of his use of words in his play he wrote, would that also mean that if an author wrote about terrorism, he is a terrorist? In the tragedy play Othello, Shakespeare is proven to not be a racist misogynist even with his decision to include racist inferences. It was the period in time when this play took place that leads the audience to infer portions of the play are racist in tone. Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare written in the Elizabethan era which took place between the late 1500s to early 1600s.
In the city of Venice, the play starts off with Roderigo and Iago, the two main antagonists, speaking harshly of the main character Othello, an African Muslim who leads as General of the army. The hatred towards him was caused because of his relationship with Desdemona, a beautiful Venetian women, that Roderigo was jealous of. Additionally, his decision to give the lieutenant position over to Cassio, a young and handsome soldier, instead of Iago, made Iago mad. The controversy that occurs between these characters causes an uprise among the characters with racist slurs spoken among them in frustration. As the play progresses, the characters will lead the play towards a tragic ending.On the other hand, some may say Shakespeare is a racist misogynist, but readers misunderstand this in which only the time period and its customs is brought out through his characters.
Although Shakespeare’s character Othello was never respected and called by his proper name like the other white men in town, not once does he question or go against who he is. In Act 1 Scene 3, Scene 3, lines 235-239, Iago harshly indicates to Othello “Not to affect many proposèd matches/ Of her own clime, complexion, and degree, / Whereto we see in all things nature tends— / Foh! One may smell in such a will most rank, / Foul disproportions, thoughts unnatural.” Reciting this quote, Iago says how Desdemona’s decision to be with the Moor was unhuman like and Iago despises the fact that she chose to be with him instead of a man that’s Italian and similar to Desdemona. With Othello’s knowledge of being an African Muslim, he accepts the fact and simply says farewell to Iago, and without listening to anyone he truly knows his wife loves him for who he is.
The racism shown also proves that Othello took none of the derogatory terms personally since it was in fact ordinary. In the beginning of the play, the men in the play engaged in a role of being the bigger and more powerful characters. The misogyny is shown then because of the men’s key roles in proving they are stronger, but as the the play continues, the women change from being weak, to being strong.
When the army decides that they are soon to leave for Cyprus to defend the island from the Turks soon, the Duke asks Othello to leave one of his officers behind to help bring whatever is it needed for the night. In Act 1, Scene 3, lines 278-282, Othello says “So please your grace, my ancient. / A man he is of honesty and trust.
/ To his conveyance I assign my wife, / With what else needful your good grace shall think / To be sent after me.” Othello’s way of assigning his wife Desdemona to work with another working man shows that her opinion or thought on what to do was not her choice, but in fact her husband’s. Towards the end of the play, Desdemona’s weaknesses was swept away, and she became stronger. In Act 5, Scene 2, lines 66-69, Desdemona stands up for herself by truthfully declaring “And have you mercy too! I never did / Offend you in my life, never loved Cassio / But with such general warranty of heaven / As I might love. I never gave him token.” Once Desdemona learns why Othello has been so cruel towards her, Shakespeare displays Desdemona as a strong character that stands up for what she believes. Although it was rare in this time period for women to go against their husbands, Shakespeare shows that women can be superior to men.
The typical racist phrases, and the development of women in this play, will prove that Shakespeare is indeed not a racist misogynist. In the Elizabethan error, racism was a reality, and being called racist slurs was common. Seeing the different races in the communities led most of the population referring to blacks as creatures from out of the area. Jealousy from Shakespeare’s others characters to Othello also led to the terms they called them. In Act 1, Scene 2, lines 61-63, Othello is found by Brabantio and his guards but gracefully says “Keep your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. / Good signor, you have more command with your years / Than with your weapon.” He delivered his words calmly by saying that he does not want to fight with weapons, but just as humans talking about the situation. This proves Othello’s gentleness and courtesy that makes others want to be like him, and want to bring him down because of his personality and dedication to be himself.
In Act 1, Scene 3, lines 85-89 Othello does not act as he is someone he is not, but shows who he is inside and out by saying “For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith / Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used / Their dearest action in the tented field, / And little of this great world can I speak.” Throughout the play, there are cases where Shakespeare allows Othello to recognize himself. He is man that is acceptant of the person he is. Specifically, he is a racially different man, mostly because of the environmental factors around him.
Lastly, Shakespeare gives Othello a high position in the army despite his race. He shows his powerful and leadership side of his personality in leading his crew. In Act 1, Scene 3, lines 222-227 Othello states “The tyrant custom, most grave senators, / Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war / My thrice-driven bed of down.
I do agnize / A natural and prompt alacrity / I find in hardness, and do undertake / These present wars against the Ottomites.”. As a leader, he states he will rise to his position, and take account of whatever is needed, and face the difficulties as one should. This supports the idea that Shakespeare is not biased towards whites since he gave a dominant and crucial position to a Moor. Being prejudice was what society came to during that era, and Shakespeare being called a racist to most is untruthful.A misogynist is a person who dislikes, hates, or is strongly biased against women. With Shakespeare’s forceful women, these characters break the status of being treated bad by men. In Act 5, Scene 2, lines 192-194 Emilia realizes the truth about her husband and opposes him by declaring “You told a lie, an odious, damnèd lie.
/ Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie. / She false with Cassio!” After Emilia shared her life with Iago, and loved him, she calls out his lies to everyone, and made sure that she spoke out to find out what drama he has caused. This shows Emilia is a strong, independent, and fearless character that was tired of being told to do orders, and not receive any compassion from Iago. In Act 5, Scene 2, lines 66-60 Desdemona stands up for herself by expressing herself when claiming ” And have you mercy too! I never did / Offend you in my life, never loved Cassio / But with such general warranty of heaven / As I might love. I never gave him token.” After learning that she was going to be killed by her husband because of an act she has not committed, she fights back and tells Othello she did nothing wrong, and never loved Cassio in a romantic way.
The strength Desdemona is showing allows the readers to know she will not let any foolish men get in her way of honesty. As the two main women of the play, Desdemona and Emilia stand up for each other as well. Desdemona stands up for Emilia when Desdemona and Iago are talking about her in Act 2, Scene 1, lines 143-148, “O, heavy ignorance! Thou praisest the worst best. / But what praise couldst thou bestow on a deserving / woman indeed, one that in the authority of her / merit did justly put on the vouch of very malice itself?” Desdemona tells Iago he knows nothing, and does not know how to praise a good women like Emilia. She also tells Emilia to not listen to what Iago has to say about her even though he is her husband. Being a misogynist involved being against women in any situation, and as proven, Shakespeare balanced gender recognition throughout the play. From beginning to end, Shakespeare does not use racist or misogynist terms, but in fact just takes the time period, and interprets it into his characters characteristics.
By showing new sides of women, to having Othello be respected, Shakespeare shows a new perspective on the Elizabethan era. In William Shakespeare’s play Othello, it does not show any racist or misogynist views that are proven to be bias in the play’s set time frame.